The ancient name for these type of sculptures is unknown.
The name "chacmool" is attributed to Augustus Le Plongeon, who excavated one of the statues at Chichen Itza in 1875.
In an Aztec example the receptacle is a cuauhxicalli (a stone bowl to receive sacrificed human hearts).
Chacmools were often associated with sacrificial stones or thrones.
Museum worker Jesús Sanchez realised that the Chichen Itza sculpture was stylistically similar to two sculptures from central Mexico and the wide occurrence of the form within Mesoamerica was first recognised.
The 19th century discovery of chacmools in both central Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula helped to promote the idea of a Toltec empire but the chacmool sculptures may have had their origin in the Maya region.
The chacmool form of sculpture first appeared around the 9th century AD in the Valley of Mexico and the northern Yucatán Peninsula.
The chacmool is a distinctive form of Mesoamerican sculpture representing a reclining figure with its head facing 90 degrees from the front, leaning on its elbows and supporting a bowl or a disk upon its chest.
The second chacmool was excavated in the sacred precinct.
No chacmool has been discovered that is older than the Terminal Classic and the form was unknown at such important Mesoamerican cities as Teotihuacan and Tikal.
Aztec chacmools bore water imagery and were associated with Tlaloc, the rain god.
Their symbolism placed them on the frontier between the physical and supernatural realms, as intermediaries with the gods.
Chacmool (also spelled chac-mool) is the term used to refer to a particular form of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican sculpture depicting a reclining figure with its head facing 90 degrees from the front, supporting itself on its elbows and supporting a bowl or a disk upon its stomach.